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Praxair, Inc. among those Honored for Mentoring by The Governor's Prevention Partnership

Connecticut companies were honored for mentoring at the 2014 Corporate Honor Roll Breakfast.

Charlene Russell-Tucker, COO, CT State Dept. of Ed; New Haven Mayor Toni Harp; a representative from Praxair; Roland Harmon, Director of Program Planning & Development, The Governor’s Prevention Partnership (Photographer: Jennifer Fiereck)
Charlene Russell-Tucker, COO, CT State Dept. of Ed; New Haven Mayor Toni Harp; a representative from Praxair; Roland Harmon, Director of Program Planning & Development, The Governor’s Prevention Partnership (Photographer: Jennifer Fiereck)

Connecticut businesses were honored for their commitment to mentoring and named to The Governor’s Prevention PartnershipCorporate Mentoring Honor Roll, during an award ceremony held in Rocky Hill. Mary McLaughlin, Senior Vice President of Comcast Western New England and co-chair of The Governor’s Prevention Partnership, welcomed colleagues, thanked them and asked for their needed support to help the thousands of Connecticut students still in need of mentors.

Ben Jackson, Senior Financial Advisor for Beiersdorf, was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mike Mascaro, Director of Advanced Services for Comcast’s Western New England Region was also inducted. They are honored for their strong personal commitment to mentoring within the companies, setting an ongoing example for others about the power and personal satisfaction that can come from being a mentor.

Honored guest New Haven Mayor Toni Harp spoke about the importance of mentoring and about ways the city has initiated greater opportunities for mentoring relationships for youth who need it most there. “I believe in mentoring,” said Mayor Harp. “Every one of us has something to teach. Every one of us has something to learn. There’s no limit to the potential in these mentoring relationships.”

The event, entitled “A Look Ahead:  Mentoring In Connecticut,”included remarks from Charlene Russell-Tucker, Chief Operating Officer for the Connecticut State Department of Education. She shared a story about a young man named Derek Williams. “Derek thought that he may not graduate high school and sought a mentor for himself,” said Russell-Tucker. “As a result of his mentor-mentee relationship, Derek not only went on to complete graduate school, he saw the value in ‘paying it forward’ and became a mentor as an adult.

“I can give you 64,000 reasons to be a mentor in Connecticut,” she said.  She explained that in the 2011-2012 school year, 64,000 Connecticut students were chronically absent from school, missing about 10% of valuable learning. “Access to quality consistent mentoring makes a difference,” continued Russell-Tucker. “It is proven to lower two key failure points – attendance and behavioral problems.”

Inspirational speaker and author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Soul, Robert Clancy, served as Keynote Speaker. Clancy, an avid volunteer for much of his life, talked about the value of incorporating volunteerism into your everyday life and shared a heartwarming story from his past. “Incorporate mentoring into an interest that you already have,” said Clancy. “It’s easier than you think.”

Ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to small companies, honor roll companies mentor students in more than 100 communities. They earned the recognition as business leaders in mentoring by providing employees release time from work to volunteer as mentors, who often include top managers. Many of the companies have formed mentoring alliances with a local school, or school district.

Research has shown that programs that rely on volunteer mentors can play a powerful role in reducing drug abuse and youth violence while greatly enhancing a young person's prospects for leading a healthy and productive life.

Jill Spineti, President of The Governor’s Prevention Partnership, urged corporations to continue to evolve their mentoring programs and spoke about the organization’s plans for the coming year. “My goal this year is to start the Connecticut Mentoring Fund,” said Spineti. “In order to establish and maintain successful mentoring programs, there needs to be funding; funding for implementation, for measuring success, and for replicating ideas that work.”

Roland Harmon, Director of Program Planning and Development for the Governor’s Prevention Partnership, continued with the organization’s goals. He explained that serving youth in systems of care is vital. “Connecticut is fortunate to be able to launch a statewide mentoring program in the juvenile probation system,” said Harmon.

Dr. Susan G. Weinberger, an international mentoring expert known to many as Dr. Mentor, wrapped up the program by thanking Mayor Harp for her leadership in the 128 days she has been in office and by offering a challenge to elected officials throughout Connecticut. The Elected Officials Challenge prompts elected officials in each Connecticut town and city to get involved in mentoring. “My dream is to become the first state in the country to have every mayor and elected official engage in mentoring,” said Dr. Weinberger.

A highlight of the event was entertainment from The Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts who performed as event participants mingled before the event started and as they enjoyed breakfast.  Alexis Paquette played the upright bass and Tom Polizzi the electric guitar.

Presenting sponsors for the event were Comcast and NBC Connecticut, with supporting sponsorships from Aetna, AT&T, First Niagara, Pitney Bowes, and Travelers Insurance. For more information on MENTORING IN CONNECTICUT, please contact Roland Harmon, Director of Program Planning and Development, 860-523-8042.

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